2015 is an important year, ASEAN cooperation relationship has been enhanced to a new high level with the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31st December 2015. For Việt Nam, 2015 marks the 20 years of membership to ASEAN. Together with common activities of the region in the three political security, economic, socio-cultural pillars, Việt Nam has made important contributions to promote cooperation activities on environment.
Promoting cooperation activities in ASEAN Region
In order to improve the quality and effectiveness of Vietnam’s cooperation relationship with ASEAN, on 31/1/2009, the Prime Minister approved Decision no. 142/QD-TTg promulgating the regulation on implementation and cooperation between agencies participating in ASEAN cooperation in Việt Nam. To implement this Decision, the Minister of MONRE promulgated Decision 727/QD-BTNMT dated 19/4/2010 on establishing the Office of Việt Nam ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment) and approved the operation regulations of the Office.
The completion of the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community Master Plan 2009 - 2015 is the time of the ASEAN Community establishment, bringing ASEAN cooperation to a high level. To prepare for a new period in the integration into ASEAN, ASEAN member states have put efforts to promote cooperation activities in sectoral areas. Within this trend, the capacity building scheme for ASOEN Việt Nam was developed on 15/12/2014, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment signed the decision strengthening the organizational structure of ASOEN Việt Nam.
To promote annual environmental activities, according to the common plan of the region, the Việt Nam Environment Administration has finalized the Draft Việt Nam Action Plan to participate in ASEAN cooperation on environment during 2014 - 2015. This is the legal basis to propose and develop the plan for implementing Việt Nam’s activities to participate in ASEAN cooperation on environment. The Action Plan was promulgated by MONRE on 31/7/2014.
To strengthen the network, unify the focal point on organizing and managing Vietnam’s ASEAN cooperation activities on environment, on 6/7/2015, the Minister of MONRE signed Decision 1806/QD-BTNMT on strengthening ASOEN Việt Nam Office.
4th High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities in Hanoi, 21 - 22/3/2013
Some outstanding activities of ASOEN Vietnam office
During 2010 - 2015, the ASOEN Vietnam Office has collaborated with provinces, cities and ASEAN region to implement projects and programmes within the ASEAN framework and achieved many remarkable outcomes. Particularly, the Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in South East Asia Project (Peatland project); Technical assistance project for small and medium cities in ASEAN supported by GIZ; ASEAN environmental model city supported by Japan; ASEAN environmentally sustainable city awards and ASEAN eco-school awards; projects on biodiversity within ASEAN and ASEAN+3 cooperation have been successfully developed and implemented.
In addition to annual meetings during 2010 - 2015, the ASOEN Office also collaborated with relevant agencies within and outside MONRE, ASEAN Secretariat to establish delegations to attend workshops, trainings on green growth, green economy, youth forum, youth international conference on environmental protection. Particularly, the ASOEN Việt Nam office has successfully chaired many conferences and workshops within the cooperation framework of ASEAN on environment and climate change, of which were the most important meetings namely: The 21st ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment Meeting (ASOEN 21) in 2010; the 13th ASEAN Environment Ministers Meeting and relevant meetings in 2015 (AMME 13). At these meetings, Việt Nam had many initiatives and proposals that were highly appreciated by ASEAN Member States and the international community.
To implement the master plan of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, ASOEN Vietnam Office has collaborated with relevant Ministries and sectors to implement, review the implementation of statements, agreements and initiatives of ASEAN, ASEAN+3 on environment; and to integrate agreements and initiatives into national programmes and action plans; at the same time, to participate and contribute to the development of the ASEAN Vision post 2015 and the Master Plan of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community post-2015.
In other words, having close instructions of Leaders of MONRE and VEA, the ASOEN Vietnam Office has met the requirements of the focal point for ASEAN cooperation on environment. The establishment and placing of ASOEN office within the Department of International Cooperation, Science and Technology under the Vietnam Environment Administration is a substantial turning point in capacity building and making ASOEN activities to become more professional. On the other hand, this helps to link activities of the Office with general international cooperation activities of the Vietnam Environment Administration, at the same time to promote the science and technology resources.
However, during implementation, the ASOEN Vietnam Office also faces particular difficulties. ASEAN cooperation demands (within and outside the region) are increasing; whereas, the demands for updating, storing, finding and synthesizing information for counselling and collaborating cooperation activities between relevant different working groups and ministries, sectors, organisations and individuals are growing and getting complex; budget is limited, not meeting the requirements of necessary activities. In addition, awareness on ASEAN integration of MONRE’s staff and the community is insufficient. This is one of the biggest challenges, causing difficulties to the performance of staff implementing ASEAN’s activities.
To meet the requirements of cooperation in the full integration of ASEAN, the development and consolidation of staff of the ASOEN Vietnam office, and the timely guidance and instruction of leaders are determining factors to decide the success of ASEAN cooperation on environment in the upcoming time.
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Trâm
Vice Head of Asoen Vietnam Office